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Posts Tagged ‘AMCC’


5.30am

Before daybreak on this freezing morning Greg and I set off to Hampton Downs Raceway for the last ART day for the season. Bikes in tow with talk about fat people’s livers and we were on our merry way. Stopping off for a pie, coffee and a fuel up at the servo before we get to the track we meet up with a few more early bird bikers, one of which has decided it is to cold to ride and will soon be loading his bike onto the back of a trailer so that he can relax in the warmth of a work van, laden with biking needs.

Once we set up and go through scrutineering, sign in and gear check we await the call for the track walk. Lines of excited bikers wait at the track entry and we are soon stopping at each corner and checking them out. Since my bike doesn’t have a stand attached to it, I have to lie it up against the tyre wall’s and barriers that line the track and unfortunately pick up a large amount of mud on my tyres which I have to try hard to scrub off before we enter back into the pits and am very tempted to just let out a huge standing burnout, but refrain from my urges as I can’t be bothered being told off so early on in the day.

Session 1 and we are all systems go, it is a pretty slow pace to begin with as the majority of us have never done the track before and are trying to get acquainted to it as soon as possible. I pass around 6 riders who are dawdling along and start to pick up my pace a little but as soon as we had started, the finishing flag hangs lazily from the start grid and we make our way back into the pits.

Now before we go out for the second session, rain starts to piss all over the lovely track and what we are left with is a nice slippery surface on which we now have to navigate. Normally I am fine in wet weather but my tyres were starting to get a little old and harden up so gave me the feeling of riding on ice for the entire session which wasn’t pleasant. Expecting the tyres to give at any second, left me riding like a nana around the track. As I enter into one tight corner and am leant over slightly my rear tyre steps out for a second or so, but it quickly resumes it’s place in line with the front and I am off down the straight. I could feel the bike edging out from underneath me on every turn and it consumed my mind leaving me with little concentration on what I was actually doing which was kind of dangerous as we will soon find out.

As I am coming out of turn 5 which drops 8 metres in a decreasing radius style corner I then power onto the short straight, reaching around 170km/h when the bike that was close in front of me decides to slam on his brakes for whatever reason, leaving me to quickly shut off the throttle and grabbing a little too much front brake. That in itself is a big no-no as it upsets the bike considerably and will no doubt cause the front to lock up…which it did. The front tyre violently moves from the left to the right and then suddenly grips on the tarmac causing it to catapult into the  air and land back down with a heavy thud and leaving me with the bewilderment and confusion that I am still up on two wheels and now coming up to the long sweeper which I need to prepare myself for.

As that session finishes, I put my bike up onto the stands and I then go and have a much needed cigarette as I miss half of the debrief. My nerves aren’t too happy at this current point in time and I await session 3, hoping that it will not bear the same, if not worse results.

Session 3 goes rather well, and I start to get the hang of the slippery slopes and smoothness on the bike and start to work on each corner, getting progressively faster as I go.

By Session 4, the track was finally dry and I could have a little bit more fun and give it some gas around the corners without fear of it dropping out from underneath me, started to link up some corners but I am still a fair way away from mastering this track. It is a busy circuit with camber and height changes and many decreasing radius corners and a double apex corner. You don’t have much time to think before the next corner jumps out at you and to combine that with 20 other bikes whizzing around on all sides of you, if keeps the body and mind very busy.

The track layout.

Now that I can get my license back after a painful 3 months, I may as well buy a road bike so that I don’t have to bus everywhere (Major pain in the ass.) So, lacking the funds to have both a race bike and a road bike, I must sell my beloved SV650.

But I think that if I can save up enough coin in the next 5 months before the start of the season, I might be able to get a new race bike and enter into the Pro-Twin series and work my way up to the top. Just looking to iron out my riding habits now and really start to learn about the bike but that shall have to wait.

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Photos remain property of both Highside Photography and Zoompics.

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The second video is me trying out my mates Daytona 675, it was amazing! With an extra 40 odd horsepower I had the front wheel lifting up down the back straight at 230km/h.

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Changing the brake fluid.

This seemed to be a lot easier than I thought it would be, though I did have a spare hand which is supposed to make it an easy job. I purchased a small bottle with bleeder attachments and hoses on them that I used to bleed the brakes. Topping it up as I went making sure all of those dastardly air bubbles were nowhere to be seen. I had some pictures but I accidentally deleted them all before the track day…where I forgot to take pictures.

Front wheel dramas.

So after we had switched over tyres and put them back on the bike, I went to take it for a ride the next day. Something was rubbing against the right hand side of the disc. Upon closer inspection part of the caliper was pushing against the disc which then led me to think that the brake pads were run through to the backing plate. So I pulled them out and sure enough there was not a wear marker to be seen, so I checked it with a mate and then ordered some online before my track day 4 days later.

Expecting to get them the next day, I get home from work at 8pm to discover they still haven’t arrived so I decided to give it one more day just in case something happened. Get home from work the day after that to find out they had still not arrived, now by this point I was stressing a lot! It looked as I was unable to take the bike to the track, the moment I have been waiting for, for 2 and a half months now.

Ring the Cycletreads up early Saturday morning on my way to work and they try to find a replacement pair for me, they finally find some from a different brand and get them out to my house. I come home on the eve’ of the track day and go to install my new pads. Turns out only the left side would fit as the right ones were nearly 3 times the size of the other and I couldn’t even find enough of a gap to get the disc on. Then I compare the new pads to the old ones and realise that they don’t come with wear markers and that they were fine all along.

The speedo magnet that fits into the front wheel then comes to mind and it looks like it is slightly out of place, so that must be the reason. Have to wait until I am at the track the next morning though so once I get there, yank the tyre off and go about finding out what was wrong. I still couldn’t find anything so I get a mech from Cycletreads to come and look at it, after a bit of umm’ing and ahh’ing he points out that the axle is pushing out by 1-2mm and that the pinch bolt was tightened to early. (Oops, my bad.)

Once that is sorted, go through and pass scrutineering and I am ready to have some fun.

Track time.

Now that the unfortunate events were over for now, it was time to hit Pukekohe raceway in group 3 (fast group) and work on my riding.   The first session was absolute crap, I was far to tense and as a result my hands were cramping up and my lines were shocking and I was not smooth at all.

Second session in and I was a lot more relaxed and everything was starting to come together, a few close passes from some other riders  and them keeping up with them until the straights and I was back in the game. Being the smallest bike there (most were 750’s, 1000’s and 1300cc bikes) made things a little bit harder, and I mostly got passed on the straights and then I pulled away on the corners.

Third session and I had a top racer Jaden Hassan following me to get some feedback on my riding, after he had spent a few laps with me he took off and left me to my own devices where I then dropped my lap times by a few seconds. Bowling down the back straight at 220km/h and coming up to the hairpin I can see the marshalls waving a red flag which means the session has ended for whatever reason. So we go back in and I am waiting for my mate Tim to come back in on his GSXR750 K9 but he doesn’t, we then hear about a crashed rider and go down to the ambo at the other end of the pits.

GSXR 750 K9

His bike isn’t looking to crash hot with all of the fairings smashed and broken but he seems to be fine with just a sore body from the 180km/h fall, turns out that he was forced off by another rider who tried a close pass but then ran wide twice, forcing Tim off the track and then to superman into the bails.

Triumph Daytona 675

Such a sexy bike, pity they cost so much or I would have one!

Fourth session now and I am testing out a Triumph Daytona 675 race bike and I was a little cautious about this run. After a few laps of going pretty slow, I then pick up my pace and start hauling ass through some corners and the extra power meant that I could then pass other riders which was a nice feeling. After the chequered flag, I make my way into the pits, return the bike with a big smile on my face.After that, we had a quick BBQ and celebration for the 10th Anniversary of the AMCC ART days and then load up the bikes and return home where I then pass out for a nice 13 hour sleep to recover.

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Track day essentials:

So you want to get off the streets and play around in a nicely sealed area with no traffic, kids, small animals or police hanging around? A track day is the best option for you, depending on where you go, they are pretty reasonably priced and if you are doing a course on the track day, some of them even include lunch and tuition for you.

So to get started for your track day, here is the basic essentials of what you will need:

  • A bike – go figure, though some racetracks like Hampton Downs will hire them out to you.
  • Full leather gear along with a full back protector.
  • A snug fitting helmet – if it is too loose, they won’t let you on.
  • 10 – 20L petrol can with spare petrol – you will definitely need it, and it saves you from leaving at track breaks.
  • Large bottle of water – you will get dehydrated very quickly which means you lose concentration.
  • Basic tools – chances are that you won’t need them, but you never know.
  • Duct or electrical tape to cover your lights and all other pieces of glass or plastic that could scatter if you crash.
  • Make sure you’re bike is up to WoF standards and everything is tightened and what ever you don’t need can be taken off.
  • Light lunch – something that will give you long lasting energy and some quick sugar rush foods like chocolate is also good to have.
  • A car and trailer – if you have one, it is well worth taking it out because by the end of the day, your brain isn’t functioning as well as it should be and it can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Tyre gauge – check your tyres after every session, because with the kind of riding you are doing, the tyres can play funny games with you and it is one of those things that it is so easy to check but if you don’t, could mean you come off.

Now there are also additional items you can take, like video cameras, which are really good for reviewing your laps and seeing what you need to work on, so a laptop is also a good thing to bring out as well. Sunscreen is also a good option because the back of your neck can get burnt really quickly and if you are using a clear visor then so can your face.

Track day tips:

The best idea is to go out there with something that you would like to work on, say for example you cornering style, heavier braking, weighting the bike throughout a corner etc… But if you go out there with a solid focus on something to work on, it is the best place in the world to practice and it’s in a safe environment.

Drink lots of water, make sure that you need to go toilet after either every 1st or 2nd session and that will set you up for the whole day and keep you working at optimum performance.
Lower your tyre pressures, because you are riding harder and faster, the tyres will heat up a lot quicker that just pootling along at 100km/h would, so for example for my Sv650 which has a 160/70/17 rear and 120/70/17 front I would be riding at 30/30 psi and you can always play around with it on the day if you have a pump.Make sure you warm your tyres up first, a couple of laps depending on your pace should be sufficient to get them to the proper temperature and then you are good to go.

Ride at your own pace, there will be riders out there that will make you feel as if you are standing still, but don’t try to push to keep up because as soon as you start to try out-riding your ability, the more likely you will crash. Test your limits and gently push them as you go on in the day but don’t be a fool and think that if they can do it, that you can too.

Learn the track, every track has it’s own idiosyncrasies and you need to be aware of them if you want to ride as well as you can. So for example, Pukekohe raceway is a very bumpy track, but the worst corner is the first sweeper called Jennians, as you turn into the corner if you are in a certain place or you have not got the bike settled down with positive throttle, your bike will buck around like an angry horse, put once you have learnt it, you can ride through it no sweat.

Try to watch the other riders that go around the track, if they seems like they know the track really well, then follow their lines, sometimes it may not be obvious to you but if you want some of the faster lines around the tracks, follow the more experienced guys and you will pick it up no problem.

Always look ahead of you, as many corners ahead as you possibly can and plan out where you are accelerating. If you keep your eyes ahead, you are probably less likely to get scattered when  going to go, turn in, brake and some body comes roaring around the outside of you on a corner, the main thing there is to keep calm, maintain your line and look ahead, it is their responsibility to pass you safely.

If you are unsure on what the flags mean, then ask the event organiser to show you, generally they will run a briefing to all new comers in the morning anyway but it is best to know what to look for.

When leaving the track, raise either your left arm or left foot as much as possible to signal to the other riders that you are leaving the track so that they can stay out of your way and carry on.

Advanced Rider Training and Pro Rider days:

Every now and then you have groups or companies that will hire out the track and provide an instructed day where they will follow/lead you around the track and help you work on key areas in your riding style.

I often go to the ART days and work on my riding as much as possible now, they have great instructors and lessons for you to learn throughout the day and in my opinion, it is the best value for money that you can get.

Off the top of my head the costs are:

ART – $120 – includes lunch and BBQ at the end of the day.

ProRider – $125 – not sure if it includes lunch or not.

The links to these websites are just under here:

http://www.amcc.co.nz/home

http://www.prorider.co.nz/

and the link for North Island Racecourses are here:

Pukekohe – http://www.countiesracing.co.nz/motor-racing/ – Controlled testing days are only $90

Hampton Downs – http://www.hamptondowns.com/

Taupo – http://www.tauporacetrack.co.nz/

If you need any more information about  Track days, please contact me with your question and I will do my best to help you out.

Matt

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